Prioritization and focus are certainly instrumental to higher productivity. Same goes for keeping your health in check (in addition to a healthy food regime and getting enough sleep).
Complying with an established set of processes does miracles, too. When tackling new challenges or attempting to solve a new type of problem, a common productivity killer is the inability to structure the workflow in a manageable manner.
Defining a repeatable (or even automated) process for each activity can increase your productivity. You can design flowcharts using case diagrams or prepare cheat sheets printed on the desk (or pinned on the whiteboard).
These charts are a quick reference in your day-to-day routine, leading you in the proper direction. A quick glimpse can remind you of the actions, potential hurdles, or alternate ways to take them.
In addition, not only do you profit, but team members or anyone new to the project can easily catch up by reviewing these diagrams.
What about cheat sheets? These simplified forms of essential information can be pinned to your whiteboard or placed on your desk.
Assume you’re working on a large project with several steps, such as data analysis or content production.
Instead of searching notebooks or digital documents for guidelines or code snippets, consult your cheat sheet. It’s both a time saver and a mental energy saver.
The good news is that developing these productivity tools does not have to be a difficult task.
When I feel stuck for a week, my favorite workaround is increasing the volume of work within a given time frame.
Spending 50–60+ hours at the office often doesn’t result in a productivity boost. Various Swedish companies have experimented with 30-hour work weeks, resulting in more energized employees.
Productivity results, however, were inconclusive. After all, paid workers are not always motivated to work extra as it may not have a direct impact on their career or paycheck.
If you are a freelancer, solopreneur, or a business owner, maximizing your output is paramount to your success.
My preferred technique could be applied in two different ways:
- Doubling the workload within the business day/week or
- Solving the same backlog in half the time (or less).
The first approach comes naturally to most entrepreneurs. You’re in charge of product development and planning, negotiations, marketing, sales, financial reviews – you name it.
Simply increase your quota or add a few more activities to your weekly list. Being incentivized to get your work done on time would press you to focus, reduce distractions, create an actionable plan and make sure you’re done on time.
The second option may seem counter-intuitive (unless you’re a fan of). You can take advantage of it or force it in different scenarios, such as:
- Don’t take days off while on a vacation. Just allocate 2 or 3 hours a day and handle only the high priority tasks.
- Schedule some work activities for business trips on the plane or at the airport lounge. Being disconnected is not an excuse to postpone your work or business planning.
- Hit a distant coffee shop with only 2–3 hours of laptop battery juice and no charger. Make it count.
That’s also known as the: “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”. It’s also an extension of Pareto’s . Simply adjust the workload or the timeframe and enjoy your quick productivity boost.